🔼The name Deborah: Summary
- [The] Bee, Formalizer
- From the verb דבר (dabar), to pronounce or formalize.
🔼The name Deborah in the Bible
There are two Deborah's mentioned in the Bible. The first one is the nurse of Rebekah (Genesis 35:8). The second one is a judge in Israel and war hero, famous for her role in the war against Jabin, king of Canaan (Judges 4:4).
We don't know much about the first Deborah, except that she probably breast-fed Rebekah when she was an infant — the word for nurse comes from the verb ינק (yanaq), meaning to suckle — and went with her when she left home to be with her husband Isaac (Genesis 24:59, 24:61).
Deborah number two had her own palm tree — fittingly called the palm tree of Deborah (Judges 4:5, but also see Genesis 35:8) — was a prophetess, and was probably married to a man named Lappidoth, although since the Hebrew text of Judges 4:4 only states that she was a woman from or of Lappidoth, it might also have been that she simply came from a town named Lappidoth (says BDB Theological Dictionary). No town called Lappidoth is ever mentioned in the Bible, but then, no husband named Lappidoth either.
The name Deborah is spelled דברה in Genesis 35:8, Judges 4:14 and 5:15.
🔼Etymology of the name Deborah
The name Deborah is identical to the word דבורה, meaning bee, and both come from the magnificent root דבר, meaning to speak or pronounce:
The verb דבר (dabar) means to formalize: to deliberately establish and pronounce something's name or definition. This causes the thing to become "real" in the mind of whoever understands this word, name or definition, and this in turn explains why all of creation was spoken into being, and Man in turn "named" all the animals by their name and finally his Wife by hers (Genesis 2:19-23). This principle sits at the base of nominal reasoning and thus human awareness and ultimately Information Technology.
Noun דבר (dabar) means word. It also means "thing" since the naming of a thing causes the experienced reality of the thing. All thus created "things" together form the whole of experienceable reality, which in turn is called the Word of God.
Noun דבר (deber) describes any deadly pestilence, which is a "word" that breaks unstable compounds apart. In nature this occurs via the Weak Nuclear Force. The ability of unstable compounds to break apart sits at the heart of all progress and thus all reality.
The rare noun דבר (dober), refers to a pasture; probably a well defined fenced-in field upon which sheep graze. Figuratively this word obviously refers to some specific Holy Book from which a community feeds (the books of the Bible originated as separate works, with their separate adherers). Noun דברה (dibra) means matter or issue, and the similar noun דבורה (deborah) describes the bee (this probably because bees make honey, and "milk and honey" denote essential sustenance). The noun דביר (debir) was a nickname for the Holy of Holies and means "place of the word".
The noun מדבר (midbar) literally means "place of wording" and is used once to mean mouth and 270 times to mean wilderness, and because a wilderness is a place without cultivation, any cultivation needs to spring up in a wilderness. And anybody serious about the quest for true insight needs to leave the culture (or religion) of his heritage behind and spend a stint in the uncharted wild. All major players in the Bible did so.
Tradition and most Bible commentators and translators (including Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names) assume that the bee was known after a derivation of the verb דבר, meaning to speak, because of the sound a bee makes when it flies. This is highly unlikely for two reasons.
First, the bee is not the only creature that makes a sound, or even buzzes. Calling a bee but no other insect a talker would show a imprecision that is ultimately foreign to the Hebrew language.
Secondly, even in Bible times, the bee was culturally defined as a producer of honey. Honey was the only available sweetener in those days, and honey was recognized as a great source of strength (1 Samuel 14:27). Where milk is compared to the initial nutrition of a new believer (1 Peter 2:2), honey serves the die-hards. Hence Canaan was known as the land flowing with milk and honey (Exodus 3:8), and the judgments of the Lord, as well as his words, were deemed sweeter than honey (Psalm 19:10, 119:103). King David reckoned unity in the House of the Lord sweet (Psalm 55:14); Ezekiel tastes a scroll that was given to him by The Word Of God, and it tastes sweet as honey (3:3), and the same happens to John the Revelator (Revelation 10:10).
Another prominent insect in the Bible is the fly, which also buzzes. The Hebrew word for fly is זבב (zebub), which serves as segment of the name Beelzebub, meaning Lord Of The Flies. The difference between the kingdom of God and the whatever-dom of satan shows clearly in the difference between the bee and the fly: bees have a house, and operate within a complex colony. Bees like flowers and help them reproduce, make honey, speak a language, care for offspring, and are armed. Flies are homeless, aren't social, don't cooperate, like dung and decaying flesh, make nothing, speak no language, don't care for their offspring, and are not armed.
Also note that bees can only function as a society. There is no such thing as a solitary bee, which makes honey on its own out of the sheer perfection of its private brilliance. Instead, the bee is a creature that consists of countless many individuals, who venture about their world and do their little ordinary thing without having much sense of any difference between them and the whole hive. Said otherwise: bees neither have Nobel Prizes nor Superbee comic strips, nor do they imagine to stand on the shoulders of giants.